When an assembly begins, how are its overseers recognized?

When an assembly begins, how are its overseers recognized?

From Titus 1:5, we learn that several cities in Crete had assemblies but no recognized overseers. The pattern of the New Testament shows that, where the Lord has "flocks" (Acts 20:28), He also has "under-shepherds" (1 Peter 5:2-4). The condition of the assemblies in Crete could only be temporary. The Acts 20 passage supports the assumption that the Spirit was raising up shepherds. Paul gave Titus apostolic guidance through the inspired Word (Titus 1:6-9) so that Titus applied the Word of God to the circumstances and discerned those whom the Spirit was fitting for that service. Such a subjective choice in such a critical matter requires much spiritual wisdom, but, at the same time, allows for human error.

The proverb, "In the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14), encourages a man with such a responsibility to seek counsel from others with mature judgment, whether gospel workers or elders. This may not always be possible, but is most desirable.

Lest any assume they can move ahead of the Lord in forming an assembly, the Scriptures give principles to guide us. The Spirit allows for the possibility that a number may be saved in a locality, yet that, in itself, does not produce an assembly. More than "two or three" were saved in Athens during Paul’s visit (Acts 17:34), but we have no Biblical evidence of the formation of an assembly there. If we recognize that the designation, a "church of God" (1Co 1:2), indicates that an assembly is divine in its origin, the God Who moved with deliberate order in His work of creation will undoubtedly do the same in forming an assembly. If the Spirit of God is going to raise up shepherds, He will provide progressive evidence of this as some of the men involved begin to show shepherd character. This, among other things (such as developing gift, stability of character, submission to Biblical order), indicates that the Spirit is at work in forming the spiritual entity ("purchased with His own blood," Acts 20:28) that bears the name "church of God."

David Oliver